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Policeman makes pro debut tonight

Policemen generally don't lack excitement. So St. Petersburg policeman Donnie Herring must have more esoteric reasons for starting a pro boxing career. To test a theory of applied force, maybe. Or perhaps to gain a greater understanding of the conflicts we all must face.

I don't think so

"I enjoy the excitement of getting back into something competitive," said the 24-year-old St. Petersburg native. "To see the people who are behind you and having the lights on you and knowing everybody is watching you. I don't like to put it that way, but that's the way it is."

Herring makes his pro debut tonight in a four-round junior middleweight fight against Jenay Comeaux of Lake Charles, La. It's part of a boxing card at Clearwater's Boatyard Village that starts at 8 p.m.

Herring has no designs on a title or a long-term career..He just enjoys the feel of being an athlete.

But why boxing, of all things? There's golf "I play golf, actually," he said. "But I'm terrible at it. I'm partial to contact-type sport; not that I want people to think I enjoy getting hit. But I've always wanted to box when I was younger, I just never got a chance to do it."

Herring comes from a family of athletes. His younger brother Brian, currently running for Florida International, was a standout distance runner for the Green Devils, capturing a state title in the 3A state 3,200-meter run last spring. Both his parents are road runners, and his mother has qualified for the Boston Marathon.

Donnie's athletic resume includes a stint at linebacker for the Green Devils 4A state runnerup football team in 1984. He went to Loras College in Iowa before transferring to St. Petersburg Junior College. After he stopped playing sports, he "grew old fast."

"You always want to keep that part of your life alive," he said. "And I spent a lot of time (in junior college) trying to get the money and the grades to get back into college. You get used to the friends and the people and the competition, and all of a sudden, it's gone. It took a long time to realize that part of my life was gone."

Herring began training last fall at the Fourth Street Boxing Club and recently won a police tourney.

The rest of the nine-fight card includes a three-round exhibition between heavyweight contender Alex Stewart of Clearwater and area heavyweight Frankie Bray. Clearwater's Darin Allen fights Roy Bedwell in an eight-round light heavyweight bout.

St. Petersburg's David Santos has a six-round junior lightweight mill against Lenny Aurillo; Tampa's Roy Richie fights a six-round super middleweight bout against Pat Alley; and St. Petersburg's Carl Riskus meets Dennis Ardly in a six-round middleweight fight.

Tampa junior middleweight Sammy Robinson takes on Linell Stroman in a six-rounder, heavyweight Raymond Anis fights Monte Carr in a four-rounder, and France's Jean Pierre Buck will fight John Malbrough in a six-round junior middleweight go.

Admission is $10, $20 and $35. For information, call 343-2071.